Ironman! Only the Best

Rocky River Police Chief Kelly Stillman in his role as a high school wrestling official. Chief Stillman is seen here in action at the Walsh Ironman last month.

Rocky River Police Chief Kelly Stillman in his role as a high school wrestling official. Chief Stillman is seen here in action at the Walsh Ironman last month.

High School Wrestling season started fast and furious at the Ironman Invitational at Walsh Jesuit High School on December 9-10 when, for the 23rd year, the top teams and individuals nationwide converged on the Cuyahoga Falls school for the country’s toughest tournament.

Spencer Lee of Franklin Regional, Pa, became a four-time Ironman winner with his 7-3 decision over Joey Silva of Highland Prep. Fla. at 126 pounds. Lee is the nation’s top high school wrestler who will head to Iowa next year. He is already a two-time world champion and two-time Pennsylvania state champion and is unbeaten in his high school career.

Spencer Lee of Franklin Regional, Pa, became a four-time Ironman winner with his 7-3 decision over Joey Silva of Highland Prep. Fla. at 126 pounds. Lee is the nation’s top high school wrestler who will head to Iowa next year. He is already a two-time world champion and two-time Pennsylvania state champion and is unbeaten in his high school career.

“Big names lost, dozens of the 60 state champs in attendance Did Not Place, and some new stars were born. Business as usual here in what has become an iconic event in its 23rd year,” writes Cleveland area wrestling expert Bob Preusse in this month’s edition of Amateur Wrestling News.

Sammy Sasso of Nazereth, Pa. en route to his victory over Josiah Rider of Grand Junction, Colo., via a fall at 145 pounds.

Sammy Sasso of Nazereth, Pa. en route to his victory over Josiah Rider of Grand Junction, Colo., via a fall at 145 pounds.

“Seven wrestlers ranked first in the country by AWN at their respective weight class were in the field, along with seven of the top 10 teams, including the top three.”

A reporter from Pennsylvania compared this year’s Ironman to 1997: “What a difference 19 years make. This reporter last attended the Ironman in 1997, before almost any of the wrestlers competing this weekend were even born. It was a good tournament then. Now, it’s a phenomenal one. In 1997, there were plenty of elite wrestlers walking the halls at Walsh Jesuit, Now, it seems that there’s nothing but elite athletes…. Being centered in a wrestling-mad state like Ohio, where a good chunk of the teams hail from, doesn’t hurt.”

When it was over, Blair Academy, a New Jersey prep school, took the team title with 197 points. St. Edward’s depth gave the Eagles the runner-up crown despite no champs, and perennial Ohio power St. Paris Graham slipped to 6th.

It was an incredible tournament that lived up to the reputation earned by past greats like Logan Stieber and David Taylor who won prep championships there.

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